Local rock band The Swigs will take the stage at this weekend's 2nd Saturdays. The rock trio is working on its latest album.
Kevin Henderson speaks about his band in simple terms.
“It rocks, therefore it’s cool,” Henderson said.
Local rock band The Swigs will be one of several acts playing at 2nd Saturdays Downtown this weekend, at the Scott Avenue Stage from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m.
The rock trio includes Henderson on guitar and vocals, Eric Snyder on bass and harmonica and Mike Troupe on drums and backup vocals. The Swigs came together in 2010 during Spillapalooza, a non-profit concert benefitting the Center for Biological Diversity’s Gulf Disaster Fund.
“It’s been smooth sailing ever since I got those guys in the band,” Hernderson said. “I can’t imagine another lineup.”
Henderson said the group enjoys playing live because of the diversity of the audience and often improvises to play along with the atmosphere, making each show different from the last. As a three-piece, he added, there is a kind of intimacy between the band members and the crowd that makes for fun live shows.
“Trios are really cool, because you sort of get ESP going on,” he said. “When you’re comfortable with the musicians, you start to really play music.”
With its heavy ’70s influence, Henderson said The Swigs’ style is unique to Tucson’s music scene. The genre also gives the band some leeway when it comes to live shows, so each member room has to play around during a set.
“We are kind of a throwback to an earlier age when it was about writing songs with hooks and riffs, and on top of that be able to improvise and play games in the band,” he said. “I don’t think we fit into some file category. We have a very distinct sound; you can tell it’s us.”
Although Henderson admitted that the focus has shifted away from live music in the digital age, he said he believes that the demand to see live music is still high, and that it will stay that way.
“No matter how digitally obsessed we are, we like being connected,” he said. “People still are hungry for that live, human interaction. We strive to provide that, and to add a little bit of joy in the bargain.”
Let it Come Down was the band’s first album, followed by Johnson Family Values, released in late 2011. The albums are vinyl-only release and are sold at the shows and in local record stores. Henderson said that releasing the records only on vinyl was part of an effort to make people listen to the record as a unit instead of as a handful of shuffled songs.
“We’re in a digital age where people think of music as shuffling around on your iPod,” he said. “When I was growing up, you sat down and you actively listened.”
Henderson said that the trio puts a great amount of effort into making sure its lyrics have a deeper meaning, rather than just being catchy.
“We really focus on the songwriting craft, making sure that the song works and that we’re making a statement,” he said. “We’re not a jam band, we’re very song-oriented.”
The trio has been working on putting the final touches on its latest album, Purl. Henderson said the album name refers to an archaic form of beer that was made without hops, along with the effects of a ripple in water.
“We … have been slowly promoting it, and they aren’t in a hurry to put it out,” Henderson said, “but the songs are done. It’s going to be another step forward artistically.”
Along with the group’s songwriting, improvisational capability and freedom to rock, Henderson said the group is professionally focused, which shows in its early-morning rehearsal schedule.
“You want to take what you’re doing seriously and believe in it,” Henderson said. “I suppose we want to do it for an elevation of the human spirit, but you also have to have a sense of humor about yourself. And when you get it, you’re lucky.”
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